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Thursday
Jul062017

LUNAR ORBIT: THE PATRICK BUCHANAN INTERVIEW

2017 MELBOURNE DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL: Since forming in 1988, The Orb have conjured the kind of ambient house sounds – an offshoot of the electronica movement that combines acid house and ambient elements – that ensured their music industry status as groundbreaking icons. For his debut feature Lunar Orbit, Patrick Buchanan enveloped himself within the inventive brilliance of founder Alex Paterson and current offsider Thomas Fehlman as they crafted Moonbuilding 2703AD, The Orb's first studio album in 8 years. “I honestly didn’t know they were working on such a phenomenal record,” says Buchanan, who spoke to SCREEN-SPACE ahead of his film’s screening at the 2017 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival

Buchanan turned a deep love for the sounds of The Orb into what would become an epic yet intimate look at the band. “I was at a point in my career that I was confident that I could dedicate the time and had the passion to make a film on The Orb, [their] creative process and where it all began for them.” says the Canadian filmmaker. “They are a musical act that I’m fascinated with on so many levels. It was truly an honour to have them give me the trust and to be involved.” (Pictured, top: Buchanan, right, with The Orb founder Alex Paterson)

The director was provided unique access to Paterson and Fehlman in Berlin in 2014, capturing intimate moments of artistry by two 50-something men who still represent the cutting edge of modern music. “The fact that Alex and Thomas are still making such great music and enjoy the process was an aspiring thing for me to witness,” recalls Buchanan, who would combine the footage shot at the jam sessions with archival material and concert clips to form a profile of a musical act still as potent and relevant today as they were 30 years ago. “It’s one thing to meet your musical heroes, to be invited into their world, to follow them on tour, to spend time in their homes and studio,” says the director, “but to get to know them as human beings, as people and to be trusted to tell their stories is the biggest honour I could have asked for.” (Pictured, right; Paterson, left, with Thomas Fehlman)

The music of The Orb plays to a more select audience than the mainstream, an imbalance that Buchanan was motivated to redress. “I certainly believe they deserve much [more] attention and great respect,” he declares. “There is so much shitty, unaspiring music that gets so much media attention. Here is a window into something truly original and great, something personal, something historic. These guys are seminal. This is music created by music lovers in the truest sense.” (Pictured,left; Fehlman, left, and Paterson at work in their Berlin studio) 

A respected editor with 100s of hours of factual-TV cutting experience to draw upon, Buchanan understood the unwieldy nature and inherent power of the unstructured real-life narrative. “Documentary is a compelling filmmaking art form because it’s unscripted and the edit is where it comes alive,” he says. “Where the story is created, you can’t really script it. It’s a great challenge.” The crowning moment of Patrick Buchanan’s odyssey with The Orb was when the band invited Lunar Orbit to be part of a four-hour mega-concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall in April. “That was, honestly, a big thrill,” recalls the humbled filmmaker. “How do you beat that?”

LUNAR ORBIT screens at The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival on June 9. Full sessions and ticketing information can be found at the event’s official website here. 

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